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Peach banana smoothie September 6, 2009

Posted by sugarandbliss in drinks.
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Sometimes, in scorching summer heat like this, all I want to do is settle down with a nice cool glass of something refreshingly cold. And after coming home and escaping from 100 degree heat, I did just that. I made myself a peach banana smoothie. It satisfied my craving perfectly – it was cold, it was thick, and it was healthy. It didn’t leave me feeling guilty either for indulging in something so good! At home, I can control what goes into my food and drink, so this smoothie has no added loads of sugar or high fructose syrup stuff like those other drinks from fast food and drink places. Plus… one of the best parts for a poor college student like me – this smoothie was free!

peachban smoothie

Peach Banana Smoothie

This smoothie can be made with whatever yogurt and fruit you happen to have in your fridge or freezer. I had some peach yogurt in the fridge, so I used that. I imagine vanilla, strawberry, or other fruity flavors would make some great flavor combinations too. If you don’t have yogurt, feel free to use milk or soymilk. Smoothies are incredibly flexible!

Crushed ice (amount varies with the size of your glass)
1 frozen banana, chopped
6 oz. peach flavored yogurt

Fill your glass halfway with crushed ice. Add the yogurt on top of the ice (whether you’re using milk or yogurt, your glass should be about 3/4 full). Pour into the blender and blend a bit before adding the chopped banana. Blend the mixture until smooth. Pour back into your glass and enjoy! Easy right?

Peanut thumbprint cookies August 28, 2009

Posted by sugarandbliss in cookies.
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ptc 2

Whip up a batch of these cookies and you won’t regret it. I promise. Fresh from the oven, they’re delicately crisp and light and the next day (if you can make them last that long!) they take on a smoother, almost creamy texture. They’ve got just the right amount of sweetness to them, especially when paired with your favorite jam or preserves. I used Smucker’s strawberry and rasberry seedless jams, but any homemade one would give it a special touch. The real twist to this cookie , though, is the incorporation of freshly ground peanuts, giving its unique texture and subtle nutty taste. The nuts are very finely ground, but I left few small chunks in the dough so as to give the cookies a bit of crunch. Ultimately, these cookies reminded me of my favorite comfort foods: a peanut butter and jelly sandwich but in a more sophisticated cookie form.

thumbprints

The original recipe called for ground honey roasted peanuts, but I didn’t have any on hand so I used plain, unsalted roasted peanuts instead. To make up this, I added some honey to a small portion of the dough in a separate bowl, but as I stared at the cookies cooling on the rack, I realized that I forgot to keep track of which cookies were honeyed and which ones weren’t. The difference must have been subtle, if any, because I couldn’t detect a contrast in taste between any of the cookies. Nor did any of the cookies brown much more than the others, as I would have expected with the addition of honey. So, note to self, make sure to keep track of any changes made to a separate batch the next time I try to get creative!

peanuts n flour

Peanut Thumbprint Cookies
adapted from Joy the Baker

makes 30-40 cookies

1 3/4 cup finely ground peanuts (use a food processor fit with a blade attachment. I used a coffee bean grinder.)
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
powdered sugar for dusting
about 1 cup jam of your choice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and position a rack in the middle of the oven.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside

Whisk together ground peanuts and flour.

Using a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 or 4 minutes.  Add the extract and beat to blend.  Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and gradually add the nut-flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated.  Use a spatula to hand mix any flour or nuts that have not been mixed in thoroughly. Do not overwork the dough!

Working with about a tablespoon of dough at a time, roll the dough between your palms to form small balls and place the balls two inches apart on the cookie sheet.  Steadying each cookie with the thumb and finger of one hand, use use a teaspoon or your other thumb to make a well in the center of each cookie.  (I used a greased teaspoon) Be careful not to press all the way down to the cookie sheet. Spoon jam into the well of each cookie so that it is full but not overflowing.

Bake for 15-18 minutes.  The cookies will only be slightly colored and might even look underdone.  That’s fine.  You don’t want them overbaked. When the cookies are done, remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the cookies rest on the sheet for 2 minutes before transferring them to  cooling racks with a spatula.

Repeat with the remaining dough until all the cookies are baked off and cooling.

Sprinkle the cooled cookies with powdered sugar. Enjoy!

Traffic lights and blueberry muffins August 22, 2009

Posted by sugarandbliss in muffins.
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tdf blueberry muffins 2

Have you ever been stuck at a traffic light with your turn blinker on? For lack of anything better to do, have you ever tried to sync the rate of your blinker with the blinker of the car in front of you? I do sometimes. Today, I was stopped at a light in the turn lane, and the Camry in front of me turned on its blinker at the same time I did. And for the first thirty seconds, the signals flashed in sync. I grew increasingly excited as the seconds passed, for I had never found a car whose blinker worked at the same rate mine did. To my dismay, I watched as the togetherness of the lights began to fall apart and alternate instead. And so, the search for my blinker twin goes on.

On another note, do you ever try to make the wheels of your car pass between the little lane reflectors as you change lanes? I do that too.

Anyway, I was making blueberry muffins this morning, following a recipe I stumbled upon on allrecipes.com called “To Die For Blueberry Muffins.” I had bought a 2-pound box of fresh blueberries from the market the other day, looking forward to the chance to finally bake them into something. It was my way of rewarding myself after finishing my first round of midterms. Until today, I had never made anything with fresh blueberries. Just what exactly to make was the difficult part. I was debating between blueberry crumb bars, muffins, boy bait, cobbler, crisp… oh, the possibilities! I finally decided on making the muffins, seeing as it got rave reviews and didn’t require any butter. I’ve only one stick left and am saving it up for some sort of cookies. I’ve also had my eye on Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake.

TDF Blueberry muffins

The recipe called for a streusel topping, but I was just too lazy to make it so I sprinkled them with turbinado sugar before popping them into the oven. (I know, a streusel is super easy to make, but I’m also super lazy sometimes.) It turned out ten beautiful golden brown muffins bursting with sweet (and some tangy) blueberries, with crisp sparkling tops from the sugar. The muffins were light and soft, without the density or greasiness of the store bought kind, and had just the right amount of sweetness to them. With the first bite into my muffin, I swear, I got the tangiest berry of the batch, but I was perfectly happy with that because it just shouted blueberry! My conclusion? Mission Blueberry: Accomplished.

Muffin wrapper